The Friends of Southampton Sports Centre -
© FoSSC, 2017, all rights reserved
The Boating Lake; past, present and future
Tell us what you think
Recent past -
The boating lake was a popular family attraction at the Sports Centre for many years, contributing to Sir Sidney Kimber’s vision of the Centre as a “happy valley” and as “an outdoor sports and recreation centre……… for the use of thousands of both sexes, young and old, robust and frail, rich and poor, for the provision of all known outdoor games, which centre is bound to promote health, enjoyment and happiness to untold numbers…..” .
The Environment Agency was only required to make good the damage that it had caused (more…)and to return the boating lake to the state in which it found it -
What could be done?
An outdoor gym?
Restore the boating lake, maybe for junior kayaking and paddle boarding?
A skate / skateboard / scooter / bmx park and track suitable for all ages and abilities?
A paddling / splash pool like at Hilsea Lido?
A wildlife pond?
The clay was removed in December 2013 but before the boating lake could be properly cleaned to remove the last traces, the terrible, wet winter of 2013-
Tadpoles were seen in the lake in 2014 but we have been told that at least some of the spawn was introduced. Sadly, is unlikely that many of this brood made it to maturity; with no cover, many of the young were likely to have been eaten by the gulls and ducks. Of those which developed enough to attempt to escape up the concrete wall, many then didn’t survive the long trek across the scorching hot tarmac and paving to cover.
We expected to find a few but actually found several hundred young newts (click on picture for larger view). These were fully grown juveniles, which should have moved away onto land long time ago. We suspect that they couldn’t climb the concrete walls and so had remained trapped. They were relocated to suitable damp and densely vegetated sites on the golf course. Curiously, we also found a small number of much more immature efts (newt tadpoles) -
Over the course of the hot, dry summer of 2014, the water level progressively dropped and, as the breeding season should have been long finished, the decision was made to drain the boating lake as a prelude to remedial work by the Environment Agency to repair the damage that its contractors had done. After consultation with FoSSC and the City Ecologists, the plug was pulled (literally) on Tuesday 5th August (a big thanks to groundsmen Ken and Darren for their help, interest and consideration). FoSSC were present then and the following morning to rescue and re-
FoSSC has always maintained that the boating lake was far from ideal as an amphibian breeding site and the 2014 data seemed to bear this out. This is why we have been working to create a series of 4 permanent ponds, bog gardens and associated habitats, specifically designed for amphibians, close by on Fairway 2 of the golf course. The first pond was completed in spring 2014 and rapidly adopted by toads and newts (both of which bred there, it was too late for any frogs). The remaining ponds were dug over 2015 ready for the 2016 breeding season.
The contractors involved in the 2014 remedial works commented to us that the concrete skin of the pond bottom was far thinner than they expected it to be, and far thinner than it would be allowed to be if the pond was built today. Those works were never going to make the lake watertight. With the sides and bed cracked and leaning in as they do, the lake is probably beyond repair and any concept of restoration as a boating lake would require a complete rebuild -
In spring 2016, a significant amount of misinformation was being circulated on social media concerning amphibians on the Sports Centre. In order to address that and to attempt to promote an open, honest and evidence-
Setting the Record Straight #1 -
Setting the Record Straight #2-
Setting the Record Straight #3 -
Setting the Record Straight #4 -
Setting the Record Straight #5 -
Setting the Record Straight #6 -
Setting the Record Straight #7 -
These briefing notes attracted over 1,900 social media hits and hopefully provided food for thought.